A. Hidell and The Koodatahs
Porn, pool, beer and Black Sabbath—those are the first things I notice when I arrive at A. Hidell and The Koodatah’s living/practice space. The pool is being played on the pool table that occupies much of the front room, and the pornography is enlivening the living room television.
“We were sick of every local band being a Sublime cover band,” says guitarist Kevin Hidell (A. Hidell and The Koodatahs took a cue from the Ramones songbook, and the band members strike a dubious claim to familial relations). “Reno needed some real hardcore.”
It isn’t surprising that the impetus of A. Hidell is a negative reaction to preexisting trends; their music is largely negative and reactionary. Vocalist (or “throat") Casey Hidell calls it “hatecore.” Drummer Preston Hidell calls it “really, really mean rock.” The name A. Hidell was an alias used by Lee Harvey Oswald when purchasing weapons—a fierce claim to negativity indeed.
The band’s sound is predominantly ‘80s-style hardcore with a touch of old-school punk and a bit of thrash metal. The songs are short, straightforward blasts of heavy riffage with no solos or prog-rock changes. The band is also refreshingly bereft of “nu metal” or “emo” tendencies—and, of course, there is never a syncopated guitar part that might imply the dreaded ska sound.
I’ve heard at least one old-school punker say of A. Hidell, “This is exactly the sort of band that made me get into punk rock in the first place.” The band cites as influences such luminaries as Motorhead, D.R.I., Bad Brains and two of Reno’s own most influential groups, Fall Silent and 7 Seconds.
The first two words of the song “Adam’s Rib” accurately sum up the band’s lyrical bent: “Pissed off!”
“We’re anti-government, anti-corporations, anti-Hot Topic, anti-Sublime …” says Kevin. “We only really have one song about a girl and it’s called ‘STD.'” The song “Black Rock Disaster” is an “anti-hippie anthem.”
The band members are quick to stress that much of this negativity is good-humored, mostly meant to push buttons and fire the audience up. “We want you to break stuff when you see us,” says bassist Aaron Hidell.
The band also plays covers of AC/DC’s “Big Balls” and Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a big hit for Sinead O’Connor. Another song is the anti-pop-punk “Chipmunks Sing The Beatles, Better Than the Real Mccoy.” Singer Casey hates The Beatles; discriminating music fans may draw from that fact whatever conclusions they like.
As Kevin says, “If you’re interested in harmony, backing vocals and melody, you probably won’t like our band.” The band stresses high energy above these trivial concerns.
To stress this point, Casey spends the majority of shows in the furious mosh pits that form at A. Hidell shows. He often returns to the stage with a bloody lip or a bloody nose or ripped microphone cord.
While in the midst of detailing his mosh pit injuries, Casey interrupts himself to yell at Kevin. “Turn off this porno!”
“What do you want to watch? The Disney Channel?” replies Kevin.
“It’s distracting! When you’re trying to talk to somebody, do you want to look over and see some girl getting fucked?”
“Yes!" And this is this first affirmative response I have heard all evening.